Who Woulda Thunk It? Media Says Obama's Post Partisan Unity Schtick Failed

Steve Benen is nonplussed that Mark Halperin thinks President Obama failed in his quest for post partisan unity. Benen writes:

Halperin believes, for reasons that are unclear, that the paramount goal was to win the support of lawmakers who were wrong and who were advocating bad ideas. It's not about what works, or what would actually improve the economy in the midst of a serious recession. What really matters is "bipartisan solutions." Why? Because Mark Halperin says so. Merit be damned -- if Democrats liked the legislation and Republicans didn't, it's necessarily flawed.

(Emphasis supplied.) Come on. President Obama said and signalled so. For crissakes, that was the essence of the post partisan unity schtick. Let's not act like naifs. This is, in part, Obama's own doing. It is silly to pretend otherwise. Of course what Halperin says is absurd. But it was absurd when President Obama said it too.

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    It is like anything (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by eric on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:10:43 AM EST
    in life, if you set up the expectations, and don't meet them, you will be blamed.

    In my view, Obama could satisfy is need for bipartisan outreach without setting himself up.  He could, for example, suggested the the Republicans come to him with their suggestions.  Instead, he went to them.  He could have suggested that he was open to their ideas, but at the same time, he needs to make it known that it is him that they need to convince, since the bill will pass no matter what with the majorities that he has.  Put the onus on the Republicans.  If they don't get something in the bill that they wanted, then they fail.

    Oh, and never, ever compromise on some provision of the bill without a promise of some votes.

    Why compromise at all (5.00 / 1) (#123)
    by cal1942 on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 10:22:15 PM EST
    Compromise to get a few lousy votes from a party that drove the nation into the ground. No thanks.

    Why give them anything when giving them anything weakens legislation that can help the nation.  

    The idea of giving to get GOP votes is totally childish.

    Instead of changing the way business is done in Washington why not make sure that government pulls out all the stops to strengthen the nation.


    Benen may not be seeing the central (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by ruffian on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:18:20 AM EST
    problem, which is that Halperin is a highly paid elite journalist who likes Republican economic policies, as do most Villagers. They hide behind the bipartisan schtick because they don't want to actually advocate for policy on the air. I htink Digby nails it:

    There will be no change without changing the village. They live in an alternate universe in which no matter what the election returns say, conservative policies are always preferred and liberals are the reason for the country's problems. This is what "post-partisanship" means in practice. The majority of people may want something different, but the conservatives don't and they still rule the political establishment, if only out of habit and by default. The only question is how long the Obama administration will persist in believing that they should appease the villagers rather than taking their case directly to the American people.

    The other half of the Village disconnect (none / 0) (#38)
    by Pacific John on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:50:52 AM EST
    ... is that Villagers tend to be socially liberal, placing them uniformly on the opposite side from the voters.

    Obama straddles (triangulates?) Village and middle-American sensibilities, since he's not as liberal as the country on economic issues like universal health care, which Krugman points out is central to the economic crisis.

    This natural three-way tension may be impossible to resolve. In the end, only results will matter: will the economic package return us to full employment?


    Heh (5.00 / 5) (#7)
    by Steve M on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:22:29 AM EST
    Obviously Obama never said "my plan is to try and be bipartisan, yet fail at it!" but I think the reality is, people can still make judgments about whose fault the lack of bipartisanship is.  It's only the clowns in the Beltway media who will argue "Obama promised bipartisan solutions, and the vote wasn't bipartisan, so therefore he failed!"  By and large, I think real people will draw the common-sense conclusion that Obama tried his best to be bipartisan, and that the failure to reach a bipartisan consensus is on the Republicans.

    Politically, I think the Unity Schtick was a success if it leads the public to render this sort of verdict.  But as I said yesterday, accumulating political capital is only meaningful if you intend to spend it.  The ultimate goal here is to enact progressive policies that will help the country, not to keep Barack Obama's approval ratings high.

    Dimwits (5.00 / 11) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:25:01 AM EST
    is the default position for the Media, and since that was really Obama's target audience for this BS, then what was the freaking point?

    Not a voter in America gives a sh*t about "bipartisanship." they want solutions.

    Obama wasted a lot of time and political capital catering to dimwits, instead of fighting for the best program possible.

    This is a very bad start imo.


    I don't agree (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Steve M on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:38:25 AM EST
    I think the results of the election establish that Obama's schtick had broader appeal beyond just the media.

    Of course people want solutions, but a large number of them appear to buy the line that the way to get solutions is for people to just quit their bickering and come together in good faith.  It's reminiscent of John Roberts' prescription for how to stop racial discrimination.

    I am not an Obot but I am a little more patient with his theory of change right now than you are.  To me, it looks like he is securing political capital with this strategy, and the jury is still out on whether he will spend it productively.


    Evidence of the appeal of the schtick (5.00 / 5) (#34)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:48:34 AM EST
    would be found where?

    53% voted for Obama. 48.5% voted for Kerry.

    Obama drove out new voters in the Emrging Dem Majority. His gains with white voters was ephemeral. His ability to increase turnout among A-As, capture a larger % of Latinos and get younger voters out (the biggest source of his increase in white votes) does not point to "bipartisanship" being the key.

    It WAS a key with the Media, which mattered, and not a little. Not being a Clinton was probably a bigger reason.

    And now it is time to govern.

    Elections are referendums on the party in power. Obama will be judged on results, not the post -partisan unity schtick from now on.


    So you (none / 0) (#62)
    by JThomas on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:39:16 PM EST
    are saying that getting white older voters to vote for an African-American candidate in the same numbers as Kerry was not evidence that he overcame a built-in disadvantage with an appeal for unity?

    I think to ignore that there was a bit of a challenge that others like Jessie Jackson could not overcome is ignoring the 800lb elephant in the room. I am not saying that it was huge but there were a lot of older white voters in America who were not leaping to vote for a black guy but did vote for the traditional Kerry last time.


    Given the disaster Bush created (5.00 / 3) (#68)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:57:23 PM EST
    I absolutely reject it was a sign of anything.

    The Emerged Democratic Majority provided Obama his margin of victory, of course with an assist from the Media coverage.

    As for being the first African American, I never ever denied Obama's immense political talent. Indeed, in 2005, I predicted he would be our first African American President.


    Given Bush and ... (5.00 / 4) (#71)
    by Robot Porter on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:14:24 PM EST
    the economy I think any D Presidential candidate would have won this.

    The Demos might have shifted a bit, but after Lehman a Dem win was inevitable.


    I think it's entirely possible that (5.00 / 3) (#96)
    by Anne on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:22:48 PM EST
    Obama's immense political talent does not translate in the same magnitude to either governing or dealing with Congressional opposition, which is why I think he makes a mistake in neglecting the role the American public could be playing in getting a stronger bill passed.  He went into this with that element strongly in his favor, and I can't understand why he abandoned it so quickly.

    I read somewhere today - wish I could remember where - that a recent poll is showing a nearly 50-50 split on support for/opposition to the Obama plan, with the trend lines moving toward opposition.  Given that it is Republicans who seem to be hogging all the air time, this does not surprise me; nor does it surprise me that Democrats once again did not have much of a plan for winning on that front.

    If the charm offensive - or is it the offensive charm? - has failed, if the reaching out has been for naught, if the cocktail parties and dinners and extra-special cocktail weenies are nothing more than free food, it would be nice to know that waiting in the wings is something made of sterner stuff.  

    Obama should have realized - he's got plenty of advisors to tell him if he didn't - that you can't always reason with children.  You can't give them open-ended choices (what do you want for dinner?) ask questions you really don't want them to answer (do you want to go to bed now?), you can't keep offering enticements to cajole them into doing what you want (if I read you another story, will you go to sleep?).  Sometimes, you can't be the best friend, the pal - you have to be the parent, the boss, the one who makes the rules and establishes the structure.  That some of the people he's dealing with are older than he and are legally adults, does not change the essential truth that they are spoiled children who will manipulate the you-know-what out of you if you give them that opening.  


    Exactly. (5.00 / 2) (#111)
    by jen on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 03:37:38 PM EST
    And that is why an inexperienced person with no leadership skills was a poor choice. But here we are.

    I just do not (none / 0) (#108)
    by JThomas on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 03:27:55 PM EST
    think this is an exact science and the process is in the third inning to quote Gibbs yesterday. This bill will change as will Obama's tactics. Today the White House put out the word that they will be looking at districts of GOP congresscritters who rejected this out of hand to see if any of their constiuents might be needing any of those 4 million jobs they hope to create with this package...ie..time to start turning the heat on the GOPers who are content to let the economy continue to nosedive without any efforts to change the trend.

    Obama is not done with his rope-a-dope tactics in this battle..with many more battles yet to come over the next few years, it is not a bad thing to be seen as the reasonable party in the fight.


    in a poll today... (none / 0) (#113)
    by jedimom on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 03:53:03 PM EST
    Rasmussen probably


    Forty-two percent (42%) of the nation's likely voters now support the president's plan, roughly one-third of which is tax cuts with the rest new government spending. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 39% are opposed to it and 19% are undecided. Liberal voters overwhelmingly support the plan while conservatives are strongly opposed.
    Last week, support for the President's plan was at 45% and opposition at 34%.

    it's the Indies that are moving:

    support among unaffiliated voters has fallen. A week ago, unaffiliateds were evenly divided on the plan, with 37% in favor and 36% opposed. Now, 50% of unaffiliated voters oppose the plan while only 27% favor it.


    The evidence (none / 0) (#72)
    by Steve M on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:18:42 PM EST
    is mostly from the primary, not the general election.  The Unity Schtick was one of the clearest examples of contrast vis-a-vis Hillary.

    Anyway, you and I agree that the real issue is the policy, not the politics, as the policy will be determinative in the long haul anyway.  As to the short-term political results from this strategy, it's almost not worth arguing about because we'll know soon enough and it hardly matters anyway.


    Ahh (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:50:10 PM EST
    Well, since the primary involved Dems, a rather unthinking ones for the most part, I think the approach has exhausted its appeal.

    We'll see of course.


    I heard repeatedly during the election (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by BernieO on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:57:34 AM EST
    that polls showed the public was fed up with partisanship. Clearly they thought both sides were equally guilty - and Dems did nothing to challenge that delusion. The fact that no Republicans voted for the bill should be a golden opportunity for Democrats to point out that Obama has gone out of his way to reach out - much more so than Bush who only met with Democratic leaders two times from what I have heard but that Republicans continue to obstruct progress. Liberals should also be making a big deal out of the fair pay law that was just signed into law. According to what I heard on NPR's Morning Edition today, the ad that was run during the election with Lilly Ledbetter got an off-the-chart favorable response when Frank Luntz tested it with Republican focus groups. The women were particularly responsive. Luntz is clearly worried that Republicans who face elections in the next couple of years voted against this act. But I have not heard liberals make a big deal about this. They should be talking about this law, the opposition from both the Republicans in Congress and the Supreme Court every chance they get, explicity explaining what happened to Ms. Ledbetter instead of spouting vague talking points about fairness like they usually do.

    Not BHO's "broad appeal," but (5.00 / 3) (#50)
    by Pacific John on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:16:34 PM EST
    broad disdain, for the Bush GOP, was what we saw in Nov. Partisan GOP identification fell by 5% over '04. The tectonics were that conservatives stayed home, or became independents, not that Obama's huge cash advantage or alleged personal appeal converted into votes. The biggest shift I'm aware of was among Latinos, whose votes are exceptionally pragmatic.

    As shock jocks and conservative hacks revel in pointing out, voters didn't know what Obama's basic positions were, and we can safely assume they didn't have a nuanced grasp of how he expected to get things done.


    But it isn't partisan when (5.00 / 3) (#64)
    by Jjc2008 on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:41:45 PM EST
    it comes to the republicans.  Where's their give?  It's not partisan if only one side gives and one side takes.  

    One of the reasons I supported Hillary (though I gave money to Obama and Edwards too), was that I believe she has learned from her mistakes.  She may reach out....but has also had her hand bitten and smacked.  The right wing that exists today has no desire except to keep themselves and their constituency (which sadly includes much of the pundit class) rich and in power.  Partisanship requires give and take from both sides.  And the media consistently spins for the right. Anyone paying attention knows the truth.  It has been all "giving" by Obama and taking by the right.  
    Policy is being screwed over and destroyed so the republicans can keep taking?  How is this good for us?


    AMEN! (none / 0) (#66)
    by BernieO on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:51:04 PM EST
    How much do you want to bet that the story does not gets told the way you correctly explained it? We won't hear the media pointing out that Obama gave the Republicans something with the tax cuts, tax cuts will be largely ineffective as a stimulus, but ALL of the Republicans in House shot him down. When I have heard it pointed out that the tax cuts will be ineffective it has been in the context of criticizing Obama, not the Republicans. And we probably won't hear Democrats shouting this view from the rooftops the way Republicans would. I have heard several times about how mean the Democrats in the House were to the Republicans, how they shut them out, etc. with NO MENTION of the fact that they had already been given a huge concession with the tax cuts in the bill. Though I have heard some discussion on TV about how tax cuts will be ineffective it was said as a criticism of Obama for proposing them. These are the same pundits who preach bipartisanship yet fail to point out that giving Republicans what they want is to have more of the same bad policies that got us into this mess.

    Obama didn't really give concessions (none / 0) (#70)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:11:03 PM EST
    on the tax cuts.  He campaigned on tax cuts for 95% of Americans and for businesses , so to say he was the only one conceding is not completely true.

    This is his plan.


    I don't recall him (none / 0) (#81)
    by BernieO on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:54:33 PM EST
    claiming tax cuts were for stimulating the economy, though. He did claim he had the communication skills to lead, so he should try using them to explain this bill to the people - why tactics that you might normally avoid like driving up huge deficits - are sometimes necessary in times of crisis. A good analogy is that you would not normally poison your body with chemicals, but would if it would fight your cancer. He has said that some of the bill is designed to kick in later in order to keep the economy growing instead because this downturn will not be short. Maybe that is his rationale for the tax cuts, but I have not heard him make that argument. If this is the reason they shouldn't kick in right away.

    the Congressional Republicans are easy (none / 0) (#85)
    by thereyougo on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:03:54 PM EST
    to sway, just keep at it and they roll over nicely -- eventually. I have faith in the president's charm offensive

    I want to give the president brownie points when he ends the acrimony that was common the past 8 years. The schoolyard bully tactics is not what we the people, want to see anymore.      

    Obama is playing nice now, but I think/hope the Republicans will come around, they have in the past like, a long time ago when there was actually SOME bipartisanship.

    Anyway its barely 8 days since he's been sworn in, lets see what the climate is like in say, 100 days.


    To what history, to what (5.00 / 2) (#102)
    by Spamlet on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:37:54 PM EST
    "we the people," to what effing universe are you referring?

    Apparently you have no clue (none / 0) (#125)
    by cal1942 on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:01:40 PM EST
    about what's happened in this country over the last 30 years.

    Since Reagan the Conservative wing of the Republican party has taken over full control of the party.  Their Conservatives ran a 30 year purge of that party's liberals and moderates. At the federal level they have only a tiny handful of "moderates" left to purge and even those few alleged moderates are kept at bay by threats of primary opponents from the right.

    What's left of that party is a beastial group of right-wing whack jobs, the most dangerous, irresponsible clan since the mid 19th century secessionists.

    They aren't going to come around to anyone or anything.

    Bi-partisan for its own sake is counterproductive rubbish.


    People may be deluded into (none / 0) (#94)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:15:06 PM EST
    thinking that partisan bickering is the cause of the government's problems, but they will not fail to notice if Obama cannot pass useful and effective legislation.
    Perhaps, wrongly, they will blame him for failing to  be bipartisan enough. That would be the worst possible scenario, IMO.

    I don't think "real people" (5.00 / 6) (#12)
    by lilburro on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:27:10 AM EST
    will be focusing on the dynamics of bipartisanship.  And it will be hard to reach the conclusion that Obama tried his best, and Republicans failed, when Republicans are giving their side of the story on the news at a ratio of 2 to 1 over Dems.

    Is blathering on about bipartisanship inevitable in DC?  Because I think this question of bipartisanship is something Obama should never have gotten himself into at all.


    Shrug (none / 0) (#14)
    by Steve M on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:30:56 AM EST
    Something I learned from the last two elections is that the Democrats don't necessarily need to be effective at getting their message out for the public to render a verdict in their favor.

    I don't think the public is coming at this issue like a blank slate, saying "Gosh, that Republican on TV makes a reasonable case, I guess they're in the right on this issue."  I think they've already heard all this crap a million times and they're not buying it.  But we'll see if the poll numbers bear my theory out.


    Results matter (5.00 / 5) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:33:19 AM EST
    this bill is not going to deliver the results.

    How can (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by JThomas on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:44:43 PM EST
    you absolutely know what exactly the correct prescription for the economy really is?

    If you have a crystal ball that is 100% accurate,why are you not Bill Gates boss?

    To sit there and declare this is wrong and you have the correct answer is presumptious and ridiculous on it's face. What is your formal training in economics?

    Nobody knows exactly what the cure for his sick economy is..admit it. Yes, maybe a bigger bill would be better, but is it a guarantee? no.


    How can you know I am wrong (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:54:44 PM EST
    Obviously I am stating my opinion as you are stating yours - which seems to be "trust Obama."

    And your (none / 0) (#107)
    by JThomas on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 03:22:03 PM EST
    opinion seems to be based on ''distrust Obama''.

    This bill will change, and probably get bigger. Is it ever going to be as big as Krugman wants? I doubt it. Do you think Obama wants it to fail? I doubt that also.
    In the real world,sometimes you do not get everything you want.


    I distrust every pol I admit (5.00 / 1) (#112)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 03:50:38 PM EST
    But this is my judgment on the legislation, not Obama.

    The bill and results... (none / 0) (#27)
    by BigElephant on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:45:22 AM EST
    Results matter and this bill may not work.  But it may.  Frankly I don't think you know enough to know if it will or won't.  I'll go even further.  I don't think ANYONE does.  See the Black Swan for a partial reason why.  

    It's simply too complex.  But so far everything I've heard proposed is too complex.  But that's even OK, because the problem has more complexity than we can model.  That's why the best minds on the planet didn't really see it coming (and if someone says you did, ask him for the shorts and puts to prove it).  


    And pigs might fly (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:54:29 AM EST
    If you think the bill will work and is the right prescription, then say so.

    I do not.


    It's a No Brainer (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by CDN Ctzn on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:59:15 AM EST
    Tax Cuts can not, have not, and will not, help the economy! How the H@ll do you fund the programs that are being proposed with increased spending when the income is dramatically reduced through greater tax cuts? It was the Republicans tax cuts that created this mess in the first place.
    Keynesian economics work!
    Freidmann economics don't!
    Yet we continue to persue disaster capitalism and the Chicago School blindly thinking it will work this time.
    I was told that the definition of Insanity was repeating the same act (policys?) over and over again and expecting a different result.

    Tax cuts do work my friend (1.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Slado on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:37:50 PM EST
    And so do balanced budgets.

    We had one and not the other under the last president.  Blaming our economic calamity on a macro economic theory is misguided.

    More deficit spending by out government is only going to mean taking money out of the private economy and putting it inot the public one.   This won't grow the economy only refocus where the money goes.   For every tax dollar spent a tax dollar must be taken out of the private sector which in reality is what determines if the economy grows.

    I agree with BTD for slightly different reasons.  

    Bottom line is the government has a role (which is really waht Keynes was talking about) in helping the economy along but even he wouldn't approve of this stimulus which is simple government spending on pork projects.


    My gawd (5.00 / 1) (#127)
    by cal1942 on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:30:31 PM EST
    Slado.  What a crock.

    It depends on the conditions (none / 0) (#86)
    by BernieO on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:04:46 PM EST
    some of Friedman's monetary theory does work in normal times, but not now that the Fed has used up its arsenal. Also deficits are justified in times of serious economic downturn, especially when monetary policy like lowering interest rates isn't working and there is a collapse in demand. As for tax cuts, certain ones can help, like those that encourage businesses to reinvest or expand, but they don't work when demand is so low. Right now tax cuts that favor lower income people will be spent so they will help. That is why Obama is actually proposing a tax "refund". He could do it by having an temporary exemption on payroll taxes but Republicans would probably use that as a way to argue that SS is too weak and should be destroyed. Edconomic ideologues are like the men in the story about the blind men and the elephant, everyone has a piece of the truth but tries to say they have all the answers. There are economists like Paul Krugman who focus on what works and in what circumstances, which is what a true social scientist would do. Unfortunately too many economists have no respect for scientific, fact-based thought and resort to spouting beliefs instead.

    According to Barney Frank, Chmn. of the (none / 0) (#99)
    by thereyougo on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:27:59 PM EST
    Banking committee, expected banks to be as lenient to the public as the government was being with them. Whatever that means. So, in an interview with TPM, Frank asserts that we need to appease the banks so that in turn they help Main St. out or something.

     Skeptics have a long way to go before that line of thought gets some traction because through past  the banks' cheesy slick and sleazy tactics/practices, like bloated fees for services, they lost the goodwill of the people.So when the people walked away from their mortgages, its was like giving banks the collective finger, saying FU take this Wachovia et al.

    Someone in my family tried to call bank A when she wanted to get into a government program as outlined by the Congress, but  she found a resistance to some of the provisions in the gov't bailout from banks and the people are mad about that too.


    but the goal here, for this bill, (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by lilburro on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:39:55 AM EST
    was bipartisanship and being nice to Republicans (healing them, practically), not winning an election.  Oh, yeah, and the bill is supposed to accomplish something as well, I can't remember what...

    We could point at Bush and win the past two elections.  We can use Bush now, and say conservative ideology, bad tax cuts, etc. put us in this mess, and we don't need them in our bill.  But the Democrats (Obama at least) seem to have abandonded that.

    IIRC, you pointed to an article yesterday about how Obama should use the bully pulpit across the country.  I agree with that.  I wonder if the very very long electoral campaign has made him reluctant to do so.  


    My assumption (none / 0) (#25)
    by Steve M on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:43:04 AM EST
    or at least my hope, is that this bill is a beginning and not an end.  I am a little pessimistic, because we're going around making extravagant promises like "this is our one and only exception to paygo," but I'm still going to wait and see.  Realistically I'm not sure we have a lot of other options!

    Your assumption seems (5.00 / 5) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:45:03 AM EST
    far fetched to me.

    do you believe Obama will come back in 6 months and get something stronger through? that defies political history.

    Even FDR was at his strongest in the first hundred days.


    I guess so (5.00 / 4) (#29)
    by lilburro on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:46:15 AM EST
    but how many bold spending/stimulus bills do you think Obama has in him?

    Render a verdict in their favor? (none / 0) (#58)
    by sj on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:24:49 PM EST
    Really?  The Dems have the majority.  Congress approval rating went into the single digits last summer.  That's rendering a verdict in their favor?

    Yeah (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by Steve M on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:20:15 PM EST
    Are you playing games here, or are you genuinely not aware that the Democrats in Congress have consistently enjoyed an approval rating far in excess of the Republicans in Congress - not to mention, the Democrats have won big in each of the last two elections?

    Congressional approval ratings (none / 0) (#74)
    by CST on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:32:11 PM EST
    Are pretty silly in general.  People approve of their own senators and hate the ones from other states.  What else is new?

    And the last senate session was abysmal.  Yes the Dems had a very slim majority, but with an opposition president, and a VERY slim majority it's pretty difficult to get any kind of agenda passed.  When nothing passes, no one is happy.  Not the repubs, not the dems, hence, low approval ratings.  That doesn't say anything about approving or disapproving an agenda by a certain party.  It's disapproving the complete lack of progress.


    It's even harder to get an agenda passed (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by sj on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:54:53 PM EST
    when no real effort is put into it.  And that's how the last two years look to lots and lots of people.

    Sure (none / 0) (#84)
    by CST on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:02:57 PM EST
    But which party saw large gains in congress in Nov. despite abysmal approval ratings in May???

    I think that answers your question about whether the poll is meaningfull or not.  It's not.

    I can disapprove of every senator besides my own, but that doesn't mean I get to vote for or against them.


    I actually kind of agree with you on that (none / 0) (#89)
    by sj on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:08:38 PM EST
    I think that answers your question about whether the poll is meaningfull or not.  It's not.

    Except that I think we/they can only get a pass for so long before we have another wave of "throw the bums out".  That's what happened to Republicans during the last two elections.  It's what happened to the Dems in the 90's.  Do you think if the electorate sees no results that another wave will NOT be triggered?


    I'm not playing games (none / 0) (#80)
    by sj on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:51:55 PM EST
    Are you playing games here or is this not meaningful to you?

    How long do you think we'll get those election results with that kind of public approval?


    Gee whiz (none / 0) (#90)
    by Steve M on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:09:11 PM EST
    as long as public approval of "the Democrats in Congress" exceeds public approval of "the Republicans in Congress" by 20 points or so, I'm pretty confident we'll continue to get those election results!  Because those are the only two choices, my friend.

    True (5.00 / 0) (#95)
    by sj on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:20:22 PM EST
    And how long do you think that will last if they see no results and no difference in their lives compared to when the R's were in charge?  And, in fact, just this week thousands lost their jobs (or will) while the Dems were/are in power.  Many voters will rightly feel that they are doing worse than they were doing when the R's were in charge.  

    Unless the Dems make the case, voters won't realize/remember that it was because of existing GOP policies.  Because in two years, it won't register that it happened in the first week of an Obama administration.  It will only matter that it happened during the Obama administration while the Dems were in the majority.


    Not for long (none / 0) (#101)
    by Steve M on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:37:22 PM EST
    but now you are making a completely different point.  Your original claim was that because the "approval ratings of Congress" went into the single digits last summer, that means the public has not rendered a verdict in favor of the Democrats and against the Republicans.  I pointed out that since the Congressional Democrats' approval ratings are far higher than those of their counterparts, not to mention the fact that the Democrats have won two straight elections by wide margins notwithstanding the low approval ratings of Congress, the public has already made up its mind regarding the Republicans.

    Of course the same state of affairs will not prevail forever.  That's not what I argued, that's not what your original response referred to, and I'd respectfully ask you to refer back to my original comment and let me know if you disagree with THAT comment, as opposed to other comments that I didn't actually make.


    I'm not making a different point at all (none / 0) (#103)
    by sj on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:43:17 PM EST
    It was just that I didn't make my point clearly the first time.  And you interpreted it differently than I meant it.

    Just as I (none / 0) (#105)
    by sj on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:57:20 PM EST
    interpreted your original comment differently than you meant it.  With all the additional jabber I now know more of what you meant the first time.

    On that Think Progress report... (none / 0) (#53)
    by lobary on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:18:03 PM EST
    I've seen that report linked approvingly throughout the lefty blogosphere, but IMO we do ourselves a disservice by not openly questioning its methodology. While I agree that it seems like Republicans are hogging air time on the cable gabworks, one can reasonably argue that those results are expected now that a Democrat is in the White House. Face time for Republican members of Congress will outnumber their Democratic counterparts because the Democratic view will be voiced by members of the Obama administration. A better study would compare the appearances by Democrats in Congress and the White House versus Republicans in Congress.

    Expected? (5.00 / 2) (#57)
    by squeaky on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:23:34 PM EST
    While I agree that it seems like Republicans are hogging air time on the cable gabworks, one can reasonably argue that those results are expected now that a Democrat is in the White House.

    Based on some internal fantasy of yours?

    When Republicans ruled did you see more face time of Democrats on teevee? Or is it that you believed that the MSM had a liberal bias because GOP ruled and now it will be the reverse?

    I do not understand the basis of your assumption.


    The Theory of Obama... (5.00 / 2) (#59)
    by Pacific John on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:34:02 PM EST

    This points out another problem with the Theory of Obama. He indeed benefited from disproportionate coverage during the primary and general, but now that we're in the legislative trenches, the opposition's machine can again control the system.

    A campaign communications machine is not the same as a governing communications machine, and it is an open question whether the Team Awesome can overcome the GOP media game.


    The title on the graph (none / 0) (#60)
    by lobary on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:35:14 PM EST
    says "Cable News Appearances by Members of Congress."

    Is it really that surprising that Democrats in Congress have been lapped by Republicans on that score considering the party that currently holds the White House?

    Please note that I am not arguing against the gist of the report itself but simply noting the obvious flaw in the methodology. The 2-1 ratio may be overstating the case as appearances by Obama administration officials are not included in the study.


    Are you new to politics (5.00 / 2) (#87)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:05:48 PM EST
    or to watching the news?  Serious question.  Because this is a nice theory in the abstract, but it's utterly false in reality.

    Republicans outnumbered Dems. on TV 3 or 4 to 1 over the Bush years.  Why?  The explanation was that of course they would because the Republicans are in control and therefore they're the ones to talk to.  But although the ratio moderates slightly when Dems.  are in control, Republicans and conservatives still outnumber Dems.  See the first two years of Clinton's term, for example, when D's had the White House and both houses of Congress.


    Miscommunication here (5.00 / 1) (#104)
    by lobary on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:52:34 PM EST
    My apologies for not making myself clear enough. There is no disputing the fact the MSM loves it some Repub talking points. Kicking liberals in the teeth is a favorite pastime of the network chattering classes; it's certainly no surprise that they've continued to put the steel toe to Dem teeth in the first week of Obama's presidency, despite a long love affair that helped him win the presidency.

    Yes, the MSM sucks. Yes, the MSM is unfair to Democrats. However, the study that ThinkProgress released this weeks is so transparently flawed that linking to it as proof only undermines the arguments we make about the MSM's fantastic ability to kiss the feet of its GOP bosses.

    Consider: if you're David Gregory and you have a Dem slot to fill on MTP, do you want Charlie Rangel or do you want Rahm Emmanuel or Robert Gibbs? They will choose the administration official the majority of the time, which explains why there are fewer Dems from Congress filling these TV slots. A more authoritative study would compare appearances by Democrats from Congress in, say, the wake of the 2004 election to the appearances of Republican members in the first few weeks of Obama's presidency.

    That's my point.  


    In fact (none / 0) (#128)
    by cal1942 on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:40:00 PM EST
    the excuse the media gave for giving Republicans more face time during the Bush administration was that a Republican was in the White House and therefore drove policy.

    I'm wondering what excuse they'll use this time for giving Republicans more face time.


    I would like to believe (none / 0) (#130)
    by weltec2 on Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 01:58:30 AM EST
    that you're right. But this is not the way the media is reporting it. It is being reported as a failure on Obama's part. Or in many cases they are simply allowing Repugs to spout their talking points and they are sitting by like Chris Matthews saying nothing in rebuttal.

    Democrats need to stop trying to be liked (5.00 / 11) (#13)
    by BernieO on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:30:55 AM EST
    and start defending their positions as well as countering right wing propaganda. I am already hearing the right wing's dishonest talking points from friends and family (who are not political), from callers to NPR talk shows both local and national, and in the mainstream media. For example, several times people I know have said that FDR's policies did not help get us out of the depression, that only private spending worked, and that it was WWII that did the job. When I point out what should be obvious - that it was government spending on defense that helped, not private sector spending I usually get an answer like "I never thought of that". Even worse, yesterday on "Morning Joe" I heard Mika B. repeatedly assert that the New Deal did not increase jobs! That delusion is based on dishonest statistical manipulations that leave out all the jobs directly created by the New Deal. The WPA and CCC workers did things like build infrastructure that we still use today, clearly contributing to the economy both then and now. Mika is not a right winger but she has clearly heard only the conservative's side of the story. If Democrats were getting their side out as effectively and pushing the media to be honest about the facts this would not be happening. The public has been told since Reagan that the government is incapable of helping the economy. This message has been communicated in explicit ways but also implicitly. For example, we have heard over and over that we have the best health care system in the world and that other countries have long waits to get care. The implication is that government cannot run anything well. Democrats have rarely pointed out that Medicare delivers comparable care for less or that the Veterans health care system has become the most efficient in the country. (At least it was before all the injured vets have flooded the system without an adequate increase in funding.) The public will not give up the idea that the government is part of the problem overnight. Nor will charisma or charm undo this inaccurate world view. It will take a continued effort to educate people instead of ceding the floor to right wing ideologues who do not live in the fact-based world.

    A general plea for paragraphs (5.00 / 7) (#88)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:07:53 PM EST
    Please, throw in a new paragraph every two or three sentences.  I'm interested in what you have to say, but I simply can't sensibly read through all those run-on paragraphs.

    I Second That (none / 0) (#93)
    by squeaky on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:14:05 PM EST
    Makes a huge difference.

    Sorry about that (none / 0) (#120)
    by BernieO on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 06:11:03 PM EST
    I accidentally posted it before I had a chance to edit.

    Good Idea In General (5.00 / 1) (#121)
    by squeaky on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 06:13:12 PM EST
    Not just that post.. Short paragraphs makes reading easier on the eyes.

    Compromise what and for who? (5.00 / 6) (#15)
    by mmc9431 on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:33:11 AM EST
    We have one political party that believes in tax cuts and allowing business a free reign, The Republican's.

    The Democrat's don't share that philosophy. So where's the compromise and why? They're at the opposite ends of the spectrum. So instead we're expected to accept a watered down bill that incorporates the same failed economic policies of the past in an effort to show bipartisanship? This makes absolutely no sense.

    The Republicans (5.00 / 7) (#28)
    by CDN Ctzn on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:45:41 AM EST
    are likely laughing their asses off right about now. They're dead in the water as far as their numbers go and yet they're able to control the debate and get the concessions they want!
    It's really a no lose situation for them!
    1. They get the Tax Cuts extended and
    2. When things go badly, they get to claim that they were the minority and virtually powerless. It's the Democrats with the majority in BOTH houses and the Presidency who are to blame.
    Great "strategery" on the part of the Dems!

    They do love it (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by ruffian on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:50:18 AM EST
    They don't have to take responsibility for anything, and get to stand up for their misguided principles. As BTD intimated yesterday, if their opposition to the stimulus bill would have actually killed it, they would not have been able to be in this position.

    Yep. The GOP is a very effective minority party. (5.00 / 4) (#44)
    by Pacific John on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:57:38 AM EST
    They are designed for it, as their unifying principle is anti-government.

    They are extremely good at preventing things from getting done, so it's not quite clear why our team, that has been able to get relatively little done (since the '93 economic bill?), would jump into the GOP briar patch.


    Because it takes (none / 0) (#129)
    by cal1942 on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:47:56 PM EST
    leadership determined to get things done.  

    That leadershiop must come from the White House and so far it's not forthcoming.

    Only nine days and the trend isn't very promising.


    He needed to put his energy into convincing (5.00 / 5) (#106)
    by esmense on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 03:10:24 PM EST
    the American people about the benefits and effectiveness of the measures he was proposing, rather than into "listening" to Republicans. Where is his passion for and commitment to his own ideas?

    I'm beginning to fear he doesn't have any passion because he doesn't have any clear ideas, vision or commitment.

    He told the House Republicans that he "didn't have any pride of authorship" in terms of the bill. Why not? Does he or doesn't he believe in the policies contained in the bill?

    Such cool ambivilance is making me nervous -- and, I believe, an increasing number of other Americans too.

    Beginning To Fear? (1.00 / 1) (#110)
    by squeaky on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 03:35:14 PM EST
    Now that is not very honest of you. You have been making the same comment about Obama since you started commenting about the primary.

    Insults don't make for very fruitful political (5.00 / 6) (#115)
    by esmense on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 04:06:45 PM EST
    discussion, so I won't make insulting assertions about your honesty. But I have noticed that you never comment except to accuse others of bad faith in regard to Obama.

    I cherish my right to judge, criticize and express my concerns about the actions of our political leaders. For you to suggest that my concern -- for how our current leadership is responding to serious crisis -- is dishonest and based in some kind of weird personal animosity rather than genuine concern for the country is outrageous.

    I have a lot of respect for Obama. You, my dear, I fear, may just have a crush.


    No Crush On My Part (none / 0) (#116)
    by squeaky on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 04:30:12 PM EST
    That is for damn sure. And certainly no insult intended.

    It is factual that you are not beginning to fear anything about Obama's lack of focus, experience, etc. You have been arguing that since you started following politics with Nixon, you have never seen such a poor choice for president as Obama, or something along those lines.

    A more honest approach, although less rhetorical to be sure, would be to say I never thought much of the guy and am now finding out that I was right.

    Not that I would agree with you, but at least you would be making your bias clear.

    And the record speaks for itself as to the breadth of my comment history at TL. The fact that you have it so wrong speaks more to your focus than mine.  


    I don't know who in the hell you are quoting (5.00 / 1) (#117)
    by esmense on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 04:46:13 PM EST
    but the statements you are attributing to me have never been made by me.

    I'm not interested in personal flame wars. If you have something serious to say about the measures under discussion, then, say them. I won't be responding any further to your personal attacks.


    Personal Attacks? (1.00 / 1) (#118)
    by squeaky on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 05:18:39 PM EST
    You are the one here who has made personal attacks not me. Unless there is another poster here using your screen name I stand by my representation of your comments regarding Obama.

    There is an archive if your memory is short. here, here, here etc...  


    I was criticizing campaign tactics in those posts (5.00 / 1) (#119)
    by esmense on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 06:08:12 PM EST
    Some of which I found very distressing. But nowhere have I ever said I "have never seen such a poor choice for president as Obama."

    It is not something I've said or believe.

    But, really, you should think about giving up your obession with other people's criticisms of Obama. Criticism of our political leaders' conduct and policies is not just a right, its a democratic (small "d") duty.  


    Really? (5.00 / 1) (#126)
    by squeaky on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:18:05 PM EST
    But nowhere have I ever said I "have never seen such a poor choice for president as Obama."

    Did I somehow misunderstand this comment?

    In my view, the two worst presidential choices (5.00 / 1) (#219)
    by esmense on Sun Jun 15, 2008 at 06:53:03 PM EST
    in my lifetime. (And that's saying alot when you when you consider that covers politicians including Nixon, McGovern, Carter and the Bushes.)


    The topic is:

    Barack Obama and John McCain are in a statistical dead heat according to the Daily Gallup tracking poll. Why? Seems to me to be the high number of undecideds combined with those who won't vote for either

    I think you're being unnecessarily (none / 0) (#2)
    by OldCity on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:16:32 AM EST

    i think it's pretty clear that Obama is trying to do two things with, as you put it, his schtick.

    First, it's obvius that he wants to illustrate to the public the Republican tendency to sacrifice (historically failed) principle for good government.  Argue all you want about the merits of the bill, what the public sees is concilatory behavior by a President that really doesn't have to be conciliatory.  So, he's betting that the Republicans are going to be perceived as uncompromising and also as a party that simply can't admit that their economic views have been rejected by the elecorate.  

    That has the potential, assuming the bill is in any way effective, to strengthen the impression of Obama as an honest broker who's willing to listen, even when the other side isn't.

    Second, he's delivered on a promise to be inclusive.  That's what the public sees.  Sure, he's excepted himself in some cases from his own promises, but on this, the big one, he's followed up.  the public sees him doing this, and then they see the Republicans engaging in the same rhetoric that we've heard for years.  who wins that PR battle.

    I think that Obama is looking for this situation to pay forward in terms of credibility and public approval.  He's controlling the message, despite the media's fawining over Republican obstructionists.  He's the one that looks good...the Republicans look like ostriches.

    In my opinion the bill needs work.  It should be discrete from other spending, but the reality is that now is a good time to get some of that spending in.  I'll be interested to see what happens in conference.

    How's all that working out? (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:18:20 AM EST
    Just trust him dammit! (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by andgarden on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:19:43 AM EST
    How's all what? (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by OldCity on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:41:03 AM EST
    I've heard comments all day to the effect that Obama has thrown them a bone and they turned their collective nose up.  

    If you don't think he looks good out of this, then you're crazy.  If you truly expected a bill that was going to be all stimulus, you're crazy.

    The bill is a hybrid to be sure, but I fail to see why people won't take a macro view of the thing and recognize that there are collateral benefits to be gained from some of the spending.    

    What, did you think he (or any other Democrat) was going to wave a magic wand and come up with a perfect solution?  Krugman doesn't think the bill is a disaster, and he's got the Nobel...


    Where are you hearing the comments? (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:46:23 AM EST
    If it's the blogosphere - that's one thing.  But if Ambinder's mantra is what is being played out on local news stations and in local papers across the country, that's what most people will think.

    People don't care if the critters in DC are playing nicely.  They want help, and they don't care how they get it.


    the bill (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:52:05 AM EST
    is not nearly what we needed and could have gotten.

    you're crazy if you think it is.


    Color me crazy (none / 0) (#31)
    by Spamlet on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:46:35 AM EST
    It will depend on how (none / 0) (#33)
    by BernieO on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:47:44 AM EST
    Democrats respond now. If they have any sense they will be out in full force pointing out that Republican policies got us in this mess and that they are offering only more of the same snake oil (tax cuts and spending cuts). If Dems respond the way they did in the nineties to Republican spin they are doomed. It is not likely that we will see a turnaround in the economy any time soon, so Republicans will have a field day pointing it out. Even if the economic slide is stopped people will only see what has not been accomplished unless it is repeatedly pointed out. (The only person of prominence who repeatedly does a good job of this that I know of is Paul Krugman.) Bill Clinton's bill that balanced the budget and resulted in a strong economy was passed with no Republican votes, yet Democrats never made the case that they deserved the credit for the great economy which was a big reason Gore wound up losing. Yet I have heard a lot of Republicans take credit by claiming they forced Clinton to cut spending when they took over the majority. I heard this repeated by a lot of people I know so it was obvious they only heard the right's side of the story - as usual. My biggest worry about Obama is that he will not make the case to the public for his policies. His praising of Reagan and dissing of Clinton's record during the election does not bode well - although I was heartened when he told Republicans "I won".

    But Obama will not be a part of that (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:51:12 AM EST
    right? so what's the point?

    Obama as the "Independent" President?

    IT is bad political strategy.


    Do you really think the public (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by ruffian on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:22:44 AM EST
    wants to see conciliatory behavior from the POTUS? I vehemently disagree.

    Exactly (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by eric on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:25:00 AM EST
    Bush, no matter how ridiculous the situation, would never back down.  People respected that.

    Bush left (none / 0) (#19)
    by CoralGables on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:38:28 AM EST
    office with about a 30% approval rating. There is no respect for the man. Not sure who the fictional "people" you refer to are, perhaps they are from that 30% of dead-enders

    Yeah, people do recognize when (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by ruffian on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:47:42 AM EST
    you are standing firm on bad policy. Eventually -about 6 years.

    My point was that a POTUS doesn't get any points for the mere fact of being conciliatory.


    bush left with a 22% rating (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:53:15 AM EST
    because his policies sucked, not because he was firm in his beliefs.

    If his policies were good, we would be swearing in a GOP President.


    Too bad the reverse isn't always true (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by BernieO on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:17:45 PM EST
    Clinton had high approval ratings yet Gore lost to the inferior Bush. I am worried that Democrats think that things have changed because they have elected a popular guy with charisma. Republicans know it takes an ongoing effort from the party as a whole to keep public opinion on your side. They did that with Reagan and have convinced people that the man was a god. They are proactive about controlling the terms of our public dialogue. Democrats are reactive and not very good at it. I am appalled by the number of people who have bought the story that Fannie and Freddie caused this collapse because of pressure from the government - specifically Dems in Congress. The facts are clear that Fannie and Freddie were involved in less than 20% of the bad loans but that message is not getting out.

    Yup. (none / 0) (#55)
    by lobary on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:20:22 PM EST
    Pretty simple concept.

    That's true. Now. (none / 0) (#48)
    by sj on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:06:57 PM EST
    But at the beginning of even his second term that was the Conventional Wisdom.  And that was after 4 years.

    This level of nuance (5.00 / 4) (#16)
    by Pacific John on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:33:12 AM EST
    that we've been reading for the past year or more has just crashed into the wall of reality.

    There is no way to end partisan conflict unilaterally, and it's, er, over-optimistic, to think that GOP ideologues in safely mapped seats are going to see the awesome virtue of moderation.


    If The Past 8 Years (5.00 / 3) (#20)
    by CDN Ctzn on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:38:47 AM EST
    didn't convince some people that the Republicans are a@@holes then no amount of PR will.

    I disagree (none / 0) (#63)
    by BernieO on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:40:36 PM EST
    People see that things are a mess but may wind up blaming Bush personally not Republicans. This will happen precisely because the Republicans are far superior to Democrats at PR. I know I sound like a broken record - does that metaphor even work these days - but I feel really strongly that how people interpret what happens, how they explain their world is more important than what actually happens. Most people I know accept an explanation for events which is seems plausible even if it falls apart on examination - because most people don't take the time to question what they hear if it seems reasonable. This is even more likely if the explanation appeals to self interest. For example, for years Republicans have spread the message, both in explicit and implicit ways, that the poor deserve what they get because they are just lazy. They tout tax cuts as fair because too much of taxpayers' money is wasted on these undeserving people. This argument is very seductive since it gives people an excuse for demanding lower taxes and more money for themselves. Democrats talk in vague terms about compassion and fairness but rarely make the case that it is in everyone's best interest to decrease poverty as much as possible since large numbers of poor are bad for democracy. You rarely hear them point to personal stories about people forced into poverty because of lack of health insurance or who never got a shot at a basic education.

    You're right (5.00 / 1) (#109)
    by jen on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 03:32:21 PM EST
    and that's why so many of us have been fighting to stop big media for so long. That is literally what is killing our country.

    Exactly right (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by samtaylor2 on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:42:47 AM EST
    Increasing your good will with the people will allow him to do more over time.  I also think that the the bipartisian "schtick" will help him in the senate, where the elected officials have to be more "bipartisan".  

    In terms of how it is working out we won't know for a while.  I myself find it relaxing that we have a more polite conversation going on.  


    Soooo (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:50:07 AM EST
    if Obama's approval rating falls from here, what will you say about "Increasing your good will with the people will allow him to do more over time."

    Because Obama's will fall.


    A large part of the theory of Obama (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by Pacific John on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:02:41 PM EST
    is that the more people get to know him, the more people will support him. The theory is false, but there you have it.

    No but it might increase (none / 0) (#51)
    by samtaylor2 on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:17:29 PM EST
    Your 100 day theory.

    From 77 to ? (none / 0) (#54)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:19:33 PM EST
    No, it won't increase.

    What are the lottery numbers tonight? (none / 0) (#56)
    by samtaylor2 on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:23:17 PM EST
    Silly (none / 0) (#69)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:58:13 PM EST
    Unless Obama starts a war with Iran, he ain't going to 90.

    Let's be serious here.


    Sam, where are you getting this idea that (5.00 / 1) (#122)
    by Anne on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 08:54:56 PM EST
    the Senators have to be more bipartisan?  And have you seen any indication that the Republican Senators - any of them - intend to support the Obama stimulus bill?

    I can't speak for anyone else, but I think the situation and the issues and the people need passion more than they need "polite."  I feel like the house is burning down, and you'd rather sit and wait politely for help than endure the awkwardness and unseemliness of someone screaming "FIRE!" in order to save your life.

    And, sam, "F--k you" delivered with a nice, polite smile is still "F--k you," and in my opinion, that's exactly what the House GOP delivered to Obama.

    But as long as we're relaxed, I guess it's okay.


    I thought another (none / 0) (#114)
    by starsandstripes on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 04:01:57 PM EST
    big promise was a lobby-free government. Obama didn't see the need ot live up to that big promise. Why this?

    Do what you believe is right... (none / 0) (#6)
    by BigElephant on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:20:59 AM EST
    I think Obama is doing the 100% right thing.  It will win him few friends in the media.  And even fewer in the blogosphere, but over time it will work.  Unfortunately, Obama may not be the recepient of the spoils, but we need the change that he has started to come to America.  Otherwise all of this bickering will not matter as historians in India look back at the US and remember how it failed as a state.

    Define "work" (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:22:40 AM EST
    Work = (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by BigElephant on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:40:28 AM EST
    Ending ideology for the sake of party unity.

    There are some things you will disgree with from first principles.  We should rightly have debate and vote differently on those things.  There are other things we do solely for the sake of party.  Obama is trying to make it clear that we can come to a point in this nation where the ideas stand for something.  

    And what this means is that when every GOP house member votes against after you show good faith.  You demonstrate good faith again next time.

    I've seen this approach work in even more dangerous lands where posturing and swagger play a bigger role than even capitol hill, whre allegiances run deeper, and the stakes are even higher.  In the streets of South Central LA.


    Then it did not work (none / 0) (#35)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 11:49:04 AM EST
    No Republicans voted for the bill.

    Now what?


    Reread (none / 0) (#47)
    by BigElephant on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:06:00 PM EST
    what I wrote.  Not what you would nuff said...

    You wrote this (none / 0) (#49)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 12:14:21 PM EST
    "Ending ideology for the sake of party unity."

    My question stands.


    unity "schtick" is working quite well (none / 0) (#75)
    by s5 on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:33:35 PM EST
    I have never believed Obama's goal was to win Republican votes in Congress. I believe instead that his goal was to win the trust of Republican voters. When he talks about post-partisanship, it ties in with his theme of being the president for the whole country, not just the president for Democrats. By treating Republicans as people with concerns that are worth listening to, he's making a strong appeal to those voters. And when the House Republicans won't play along, it's going to look really bad to moderates. Soon there will be no one left but the Rush Limbaughs.

    I'm really impressed with how well he's playing this. During the campaigns, I was always amazed by how well Obama was able to marginalize his opponents, but he does it quietly and with class. Looks like it's happening again to the House Republicans.

    Yeah, he marginalized (5.00 / 4) (#76)
    by ruffian on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:45:29 PM EST
    Hillary Clinton right into the SoS office, and Biden right into the VP seat. Did a nice job on Richardson though, I'll give him credit there.

    Wish I could see it your way, but I look around me and see happy Republicans everywhere today. If the economy recovers, they get to give tax cuts the credit and enjoy a good economy. If it does not, even after they got Obama to water downt he stimulus package, they get to blame the Dems. Maybe they just don't know how much they have been marginalized.


    Whoa (5.00 / 2) (#77)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:48:18 PM EST
    You got a pony didn't you?

    Is the object to make (5.00 / 5) (#91)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:10:41 PM EST
    Obama more popular or to actually get stuff passed that will make a difference?

    This ain't chopped liver we're dealing with in this first go-round of the post-partisan unity kumbaya initiative, it's all of our hopes for being able to pay our bills.

    I fail to see how one discredits Republicans by letting them dictate the terms of the stimulus bill they won't even vote for themselves.


    To what end? (none / 0) (#78)
    by Pacific John on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:48:29 PM EST
    It's not likely to effect any GOP votes in Congress. Can it effect the midterms or the 2012 general election?

    The numbers from November suggest that it's easier to get Republicans to stay home than it is to mine new Dem votes, so is this the plan for the next two cycles?

    And how does this PR strategy keep from getting nullified by the real results of flawed policies?


    Another perfect example (none / 0) (#83)
    by eric on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 01:55:58 PM EST
    of Obama's problem from a CNN article right now.

    "Sure, Obama doesn't need Republican votes, but he still wants them. He doesn't want his recovery plan to be seen as partisan. Meanwhile, Republicans don't want to be seen as complicit in a policy that violates their basic principles."


    Principles seems to win, eh?

    If I believed by program (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by BernieO on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:11:09 PM EST
    would be effective I would not care that the Republicans refused to support it because then I and my party could take all the credit. Of course, knowing Democrats, they won't claim the credit. They did not claim credit for the balanced budget in the 90's even though no Republican voted for the bill that made that happen. They should have been shouting it from the rooftops instead of obsessing over Whitewater and enabling the scandal mongers. What a bunch of losers. They seem to think that all they need is Obama's magical charisma to save the day.

    Again, (none / 0) (#97)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:22:49 PM EST
    Obama and his peeps said he wants 80 votes in the Senate to pass this bill.

    He'll be lucky to get 56 or 57.


    did Obama actually say that? (none / 0) (#98)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:25:20 PM EST
    I know that one of his "peeps" did, but wasn't aware he said it himself.

    His strategists said it (none / 0) (#100)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 02:32:40 PM EST
    But they speak for him.

    Let's see what happens (none / 0) (#124)
    by blogtopus on Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 10:45:06 PM EST
    If Obama were to go completely Partisan Medieval on the GOP's *ss, and push / slam / jam every damn liberal dream down their throats, don't you have enough faith in said liberal dreams to think that people would eventually notice how much better the country has gotten?

    I say he should forget the Post-Partisan(bull)ship and push through everything that can help our nation get back on its feet, and let the GOP vote against it every time. It just gives the campaign commercials easy targets, and puts us back on track.

    Maybe he can try one more time to come to the table with the GOP, but once they blow it again, then he should constantly use that as the reason he no longer listens to them.

    Obama's cards are not (none / 0) (#131)
    by JThomas on Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 03:57:24 AM EST
    all on the table yet. This bill will change in the Senate. He has set up Limbaugh as the de facto head of the GOP...which is a radical fringe party like their leader. Obama asks the voters...''are you with Rush or America?''
    Out of work and worried voters see the 100 million dollar a year Rush vs their dwindling job prospects and can sense that Rush is not looking out for them...Obama has public opinon on his side and the GOP is marginalized and it leaders shrunken as they cower in front of a blowhard radio gazillionaire...

    The Senate GOP are already feeling some heat to moderate. Move On and another liberal group are going public with ads featuring Rush saying ''I hope he fails'' juxtaposed with a banner asking ''do you agree with Rush?''...yea, like americans want the economy under Obama to fail..

    This is a 9 inning game in the 4th inning. Obama and Axelrod were not born yesterday.

    Oh please, (none / 0) (#132)
    by ThatOneVoter on Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 07:14:44 AM EST
    Your fantasy will die a quick death. Just watch.